Buying a home on the Treasure Coast is not as nerve-wracking as some people (or real estate agents!) make it out to be, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. It is probably the biggest purchase you will make in your life, but the complicated process can be streamlined and controlled by a responsive, knowledgeable, Realtor. To shed some light on the home-buying journey, I've compiled these 10 tips that will help you be prepared to purchase, feel comfortable with the process, and save some money.

  1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage. Talk with a lender that can discuss give you a firm grasp on what you can afford. When you want to make an offer, the home seller will want to know you can get a loan, so if you don't do this ahead of time, you may miss out!
  2. Explore Down Payment Options. There are many programs out there that a buyer can utilize, some that require no down payment, like a VA loan. There are also state and federal assistance programs, tax credits, and other incentives that can be discussed with your lender that can save you THOUSANDS of dollars.
  3. Think Long-Term. Your home truly is an investment, meaning that it has the opportunity to appreciate over time if you make a smart purchase and take care of it. When you're looking at houses, think about how difficult it will be to resell the house when the time comes and balance that with how long you think you will be there.
  4. Start Saving for Down Payment & Closing Costs. Over-estimate how much you will need for these expenses. That way, if you end up getting closing costs covered by the seller, or if your loan program lowers the down payment you need, you have money saved to invest into the home after closing, or allocate elsewhere. The last thing you want is surprises, so it pays to over-prepare for your out-of-pocket expenses.
  5. Hire the Right Buyer's Agent. Your real estate agent is not just a person showing you properties for sale. Their most important job is once your offer has been accepted, because they will be in charge of keeping tabs on the title company, loan originator, appraiser, inspector, seller/buyer, escrow company, and endless other people involved in the transaction to make sure all deadlines are met and you are on schedule for closing. It takes a responsive, organized, leader to get this done, so make sure you are comfortable with the agent representing you.
  6. Be Prepared to Compromise. Know which aspects are most important to you, and what things can be changed to fit your needs easily. Some people pass on great homes because of paint or carpet color that can be easily changed, when the bones of the house and neighborhood are exactly what they want.
  7. Make a Strong Offer. Consider how much you are willing to pay, under or over the listed price, to obtain your ideal home. If there are multiple offers, you really need to consider a competitive offer. You'll also want to include a personalized letter with your story that your agent can present with the purchase contract.
  8. Set Aside Money for After Closing. Your list of "needs" and "wants" starts to really pile up after you close on your house. On top of new decorations and furniture, you'll also have to pay turn-on fees and deposits for utilities, cable, internet, etc., so make sure you have some money set aside and aren't surprised.
  9. Pay an Extra Mortgage Payment Every Year. This is an age-old recommendation, and I have seen it save people hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest. If you have extra money in your budget, throw it at your mortgage so you aren't paying interest on that money. You'll pay off your home quicker, and save a lot of money altogether.
  10. Calm Down. Buying a home can be intimidating with all of the moving pieces, complicated steps, and paperwork, but having a top-producing, competent real estate agent on your side can smooth out the process. In the end, you will be making monthly payments for your home, rather than paying for someone else's through rent, so smile and enjoy the process of being a homeowner.